Make Mine…

Milkweed for Monarchs!

Butterfly Food
Butterfly Food

This is the future. Currently the sturdy milkweed plants are in blossom, attracting a host of pollinators — including monarch butterflys.  In the cycle of life the butterfly eggs will hatch into tiny caterpillars which will munch on the leaves and grow to multiple times their original size.

We call it a weed. This is one plant which can wear the label with pride. It’s a sturdy thing, likes sunshine, and serves as a necessary host to one of the more beautiful, delicate migrants of North America.

Even florists appreciate them. The seed pods which are green in the photo — when they mature and release their seeds on silky parachutes they leave behind a husk that ends up adding shape and depth to many dried flower arrangements.



Emerging End???

It’s functional. And not as full as prior to the project.

The brush is washed, the roller cover discarded. The tape is trashed and the shrouds have been removed from the huddled furniture. It didn’t all go back together in a snap. No, small things didn’t line up or fit where I wanted. But then again, this was a home improvement project. Aren’t they required to demand multiple trips to the store?

This project certainly demanded multiple trips to the recycle bin. Paper was the largest portion — in both volume and weight. A little plastic and cloth added variety.


It waits for finishing touches. But photo needed to be quick before the cluttered file-system-of-papers-on-the-bed takes over.



Luxury Leaves

Go ahead. Pet the leaf. How does it feel?

Velvet? Suede? Plush animal soft?

Lamb's Ear
Lamb’s Ear

My common name comes from the shape of my leaf and the soft texture of the hairs on them. Do you have a sunny spot open in the garden? Plant me and a few of my friends and we’ll spread, fill in the gaps, and have you culling our numbers in a few years.

Generations ago, some of my ancestors either escaped the family herb garden or remained behind when the humans moved away. That’s why you’ll find us in unexpected places. And how Boy Scouts (clever people that they are) learned that our soft, strong leaves will substitute for the toilet paper left back at the camp.

So if you’re looking for a plant from the middle of the alphabet that won’t demand a lot of time or attention — think lamb.  Baaa!  Baaa!

Baaaaak to providing a little variable texture and color outside.


Messy Middle

Craft projects. Sewing. Cooking. Home improvement.

Each and every one of them – at least in my hands – have a point in the middle where it appears as if a tornado attacked my stash of  supplies. I proved it again with my painting/decorating project begun in earnest last Thursday and still in the recovery — may as well sort this stuff I pulled out of the closet – stage.

Friday, Saturday, and Sunday the largest/heaviest/non-wheeled pieces of furniture huddled under shrouds. They endured getting pushed around. (Actually I endured pushing them around.) Outside it was hot with occasional rain. Inside it was hot with intermittent spatters. (The old shower curtains which I use for drop cloths give a history of paints used through the years.)


Stay close together! Crazy lady is moving the ladder around the edges.


Knowledge is Key

Yes, Junior, we’re having Kumquats.

He gets laughed about. Ignored. He can’t help it. All of his relatives, the large citrus family, are acidic. But he gets the reputation for bitter. It’s not fair.


Comprehensive cook books will guide you to my use. Wash, boil, cool. Pair me with meat. Or make a nice sugar syrup and simmer me until I fade to translucent. Mmmm — candied. Or continue the process and made a preserve of me. A nice tart contrast to your meat dish.

Oranges, lemons, limes, and grapefruit get the press. But I’ll hold my own. I’ll hang on tight to my branch until ripe. The kumquats are coming. We’re real. If you laugh too hard I’ll give you a seed to spit.   So there!



The Beginning

You’ve heard the advice about a long journey beginning with the first step.

I’d like to back up a little from lifting the foot off the ground and swinging it forward. A thought. A plan. Some preparation. These are good things. Yes, they can be taken to the extreme. It’s been years — at least three — since I started talking, thinking, and planning to re-paint my office/guest bedroom.

About two weeks ago I started to take action by ordering a new baseboard heater and contacting a handyman to install it. And then I set a goal for me. As soon as I finish XX I’ll move things out, buy the paint, and do it.

I have too many things. My children have too many “left overs” stored at my place. And papers! Do I really need to keep every draft of the bad, learning to write, stories? Evidently that was my feeling at one time.

So I’m back from the store – two actually, the first one had paint but not the replacement A/C duct register. Now is the time to get “grubby” (do people still use that word?) and remove dirt, hangers, and wallpaper border.

Progress report next Friday
Progress report next Friday

Jostling Jumble

The “J” section of my Thesaurus is slim.

Slim could also be used to apply to individual portions of today’s living thing. I present (well, image obtained during visit to Missouri Botanical Garden) the Japanese painted fern.


Delicate. Jostled by a breeze. Great for a shady portion of your property. Is the ground a little on the moist side? So much the better. A row of these silver-green beauties on the shaded side of a fence, building, or under large trees provides interest and texture for most of the year. Easy care — my sort of plant.



At the Red Barn

“You want to turn left at the first gravel road past Johnson’s. They’ve a white house and a big red barn.”

I know people, I’m related to people, who give directions like the line above. One complication. In the community I grew up in the most popular color for a house was white and for a barn was red. Oh, there were exceptions. A few barns were white. An occasional house would be green, yellow, or blue.

Times change. Not as many of the older barns are used for dairy cattle. Metal pole sheds (loafing barns) and milking parlors are the norm for a modern family dairy operation.

That does not mean the old red barns are either gone or forgotten. Big spaces for storage. Most have electric and plumbing — at least basic or 1950’s vintage. If the structure is solid and the roof kept in repair they can be used for many purposes.

They make a interesting setting for all sorts of stories. Take this for example:  A talent for chemistry and indulgence in the wrong habit.

Exactly what happens behind a closed barn door?
Exactly what happens behind a closed barn door?

Intriguing Invitation

Color. Scent. Shape.

Today our friend Iris invites pollinators and humans to pause, touch, and sniff.


She stands tall and straight in the late April sunshine. Her bulb friends daffodil and tulip have paved the way. She’s the hardy sort, eager to multiply her bulby roots and thrive without assistance from humans. For several years a family of hers lived in the roadside ditch in front of our home. My brother claimed it as “his garden”. All was well until they regraded the shoulders.

Purple is one of her favorite colors, but some of her friends wear yellows and white. Yes, these are purple, not a true blue. However, I recall them cheerfully supplying the “blue” in the red, white, and blue arrangements at a military funeral.

Don’t you love the shape? The repetition of threes. It’s tempting to bury my nose in the center of the triangle. Perhaps a quick check for bees first?